I often hear people say, “Well, I don’t have to go through a priest to get to God or to get forgiven,” or, “I don’t need to go to church to get God’s Word.” There is a certain arrogance displayed in these kind of statements, but one that is never acknowledged by the person saying it.

What that person is essentially saying is this: “I don’t care that God has given the Church men to proclaim His Word and forgiveness of sins in His Name, nor do I care that God wants me to seek His Word from those whom He has given.” It is really to say, “I don’t want his forgiveness, nor do I want to hear His Word.”

The question is not, “Do I have to go to a priest/pastor to get forgiveness?” The real question is, if God has appointed this man to be His spokesman, his preacher and teacher, and a steward of his gift of forgiveness, then why wouldn’t I go to him to hear it and receive it?

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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2 Responses to

  1. Chad Myers says:

    There is also the community aspect. Sin is communal, we must confess we are sinners in the public assembly for our own good. And also confess to a priest so that we can be assured of absolution. Holiness is communal also, we can bring each other up. It is the height of presumption to think we can go it alone.

  2. Lawrence says:

    I would say that private repentance is the key aspect in this and public confession may then follow accordingly.

    The danger in saying that salvation is dependent upon something we do in public so that we can assure our repentance is genuine, is it places the work of our public penance as the first step in achieving salvation.

    Jesus is very clear, however, that salvation comes to us freely from God despite our human efforts. Any little suggestion that “we must confess” before we recieve salvation takes our thinking in a wrong direction.

    What then is left for us? We can’t choose to accept something that God has already given us. We can, however, choose to reject that gift of Salvation. In the end, Public Confessoin and Priestly Absolution are a consequence of salvation, not the cause.

    After all, the confession and absolution process can be (and is ofen) faked by those seeking to present themselves in public as something other than what they are private.

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